This page is designed to support ESOL tutors in their lesson development for beginner and intermediate students. It also serves as an easy reference for advanced students seeking additional resources about transportation in the Berkshires. For lesson plan overviews and ideas, please click here.
Vocabulary and Concepts
Getting around in Berkshire County can be a challenge, especially if a student is unsure of key transportation and directional vocabulary. Practicing transportation vocabulary can be a great opportunity to learn useful words for daily life (like “car,” “horn,” or “speed limit”), as well as critically important prepositions that help us to understand relationships between objects in space (like “across from,” “behind,” or “on the left”), and straightforward verbs (like “walk,” “turn,” and “go”).
Both the Oxford Picture Dictionary and the Basic Oxford Picture Dictionary have extensive chapters with images of transportation in cars, planes, buses, etc. After the student is familiar with basic transportation words, get out a map and practice giving directions from your tutoring session to the student’s home or from work to the grocery store.
The natural expression of transportation language also requires a nuanced understanding of when to use certain expressions; for example: “get in” vs. “get on” and drive/ride/take. This website provides a great overview of which modes of transportation you get into and which you get on! For even more fun, check out all of these common idioms using transportation and travel expressions. Grab a map from the local chamber of commerce and point out your favorite stores, restaurants, cultural attractions, and common landmarks in the Berkshires!
Road Signs and Rules of the Road
Knowing and understanding the meanings of road signs in the United States is not merely a classroom exercise– it is a critical skill to acquire to make sure our roads and communities are full of safe drivers and smart pedestrians.
Although some signs may seem to be universally understood, like the green light, others may be less clear and require some study. This website from Prolingua Associates provides a comprehensive list of typical road and street signs. You can also brush up on the rules using the Massachusetts Driver’s Manual, which is available for download online. You can also ask for a hard copy in the LitNet office.
Massachusetts Driver’s License
Remember: Driving without a license is a crime!
The State of Massachusetts has very specific regulations that will allow drivers with a foreign license to operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts, under certain conditions. Specifically:
“If the foreign license is not in English or does not have an English translation, must have one of the following:
- An International Driving Permit (IDP)
- A Translation into English of a Foreign License document, or similar acceptable translation
- An alternative translation document that contains a photo and English translation that closely matches the information from an IDP”
Mass RMV cautions residents to avoid scams with the following warning:
Massachusetts will allow licensed drivers from certain countries (Canada, Mexico, Korea, Germany, France, and Taiwan) to convert their licenses without having to take a written or road test. Click here and here for more specific details from the State.
The Berkshire Immigrant Center has a great fact sheet with information about obtaining a license in Massachusetts. They have some ability to investigate certain types of driving incidents where a student may have felt profiled or discriminated against. Click here for details. The Berkshire Immigrant Center may also be able to assist in the translations of documents required by the MA RMV, particularly the “Translation into English of a Foreign License” form.
Getting Around Berkshire County (Without a Car)
Berkshire County has many transportation challenges and local authorities and lawmakers are continually working to improve transportation options between and within our rural communities. The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA) operates a county-wide bus service (sometimes called “the B Bus”). Buses run:
5:45 AM – 7:20 PM
7:15 AM – 7:00 PM
Books and Materials
Don’t forget about the books and materials in LitNet’s lending library!
- Oxford Picture Dictionary (All Levels): The Oxford Picture Dictionary is a great reference book for introducing vocabulary on all topics including cars and car maintenance, travel and airports, public transportation, directions, and prepositions of motion.
- Basic Oxford Picture Dictionary (Beginners): Color illustrations for developing key vocabulary in 12 thematic areas (including travel and transportation). Check out the bilingual English/Spanish version for absolute beginners.
- Massachusetts Driver’s Manual: Download it here or pick up your copy for free from LitNet. (MA RMV charges $5 for printed copies.)
- BRTA Schedules: View the BRTA bus schedules online or pick up copies in the LitNet office.